How To Write a Professional Resume for Job Application

by Winlade
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how to write a professional resume for job application

The quality of your resume has a significant influence on your chance of landing a new job. Every technique is essential to make your application stand out. As a result, you need to master how to write a resume that captivates the recruiter’s interest and makes you stand out among fellow applicants.

The labour market is becoming intensively competitive. Especially in Nigeria where talented and brilliant individuals are produced annually from prestigious universities. When it comes to resume writing, you need to be smart, boastful and humble, all at the same time and in moderation.

What Is a Resume?

A resume is a document that entails your work experience, professional achievements, education history, certifications, publications, and other relevant details about your professional career. In other words, it is the document you submit to the employer for consideration into a new role.

  • A resume is an advertisement of your expertise as a professional
  • It is what goes ahead of you to grant you an interview session with an employer
  • A resume is considered to be your professional image.

What A Resume Is Not 

  • A resume is not a document containing a summary of your skills
  • It is not in any way related to being a log of your job history
  • It is not an automatic ticket to getting a job

9 Steps To Write A Professional Resume

  1. Choose the format that suits your level

When you are about to start resume writing, select the most suitable resume format. This could either be a reverse-chronological format, combination format, or functional format. Each of these formats is applicable, depending on the level of experience and nature of the job in question. Nevertheless, these resume samples have their peculiarities.

  • Reverse-chronological format

Potential employers are very familiar with this resume sample format because it uses the traditional resume style. It is the most preferable because it doesn’t involve the need for any creative design format.

It emphasizes an applicant’s duties, work experience, and other relevant information. For this, you are expected to list your positions starting from the most recent to the earliest. It is considered the standard resume format since it is the easiest to read and scan.

  • Combination format

This is suitable for experienced professionals and frequent career changers to highlight their transferable skills. This resume sample is not ideal for entry-level job applicants.

  • Functional format (skills-based)

This resume sample is skill-inclined. It could be useful for entry-level applicants to emphasize their skills since they have little or no experience to highlight. However, the demerit of this is the suspicion it might attract from recruiters who might think you are hiding something.

Read also: How to choose a new career path

  1. Write your personal details and contact information.

It is compulsory to include your contact information and personal details on your resume. Such as:

  • Name: First name, last name and middle name (optional)
  • Phone number: This should be your private cell phone number and not your home phone number.
  • Email address: Write a valid email address because you are very likely to be contacted through your email.
  • LinkedIn URL: Recruiters now develop interests in the activities of an applicant online. Having a LinkedIn account could be a plus.

Don’t include any information that reveals your date of birth or age. Also, stick to just one email and phone number to avoid confusing recruiters.

  1. Start with a resume summary

It is the first piece that catches the attention of a recruiter. It is more like a heading statement. Therefore, it is essential to make it witty and tailored towards the role you want to land.

When you write a resume summary, summarize your skills, experience, achievement, and motivation tailored towards the description of the job you are applying to. Example;

“Confident and dependable bilingual secretary with 4+ expertise in a multinational organization. Received the organization’s best customer relation satisfaction rating – according to submitted reviews from customers. (99.2%). Seeking to advance my career by translating with the ECOWAS team.”

Read also: 10 Must-have interpersonal skills for your resume

  1. List your relevant working experience and key achievements

Since technology is transforming every sector of human endeavour, more substantial companies now employ the Applicant Tracking System (ATS) to review resumes. What this software does is checking for specified keywords that are related to the job description.

To write a resume that draws attention, follow this format method to arrange your information regarding your relevant work experience:

  • Job title: It should be at the top of each new entry of work experience. It should be in bold and close to other sections of information about the job.
  • Company name, city, and state: Write the name of the company you worked for and its location.
  • Date employed: Add the year or the month, and the year you were employed and when you left. If you are still working there, write, “till date.”
  • Key responsibilities: Focus on your responsibility while working with the company. The use of strong keywords is necessary here.
  • Key achievements: Highlight your relevant project along with your performance on the project.

NOTE: Do NOT use passive expressions as you write your resume

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Your level determines the length of the experience included in your resume.

  • Senior-level applicants: This includes applicants seeking executive and managerial positions in an organization. They are expected to list up to 15 completed projects in their CV. The list should be in bullet points.
  • Mid-level job seekers: These applicants have experience working for organizations- for about 5 years. They are thus expected to include a detailed description of their relevant positions to the job and any other ones.
  • Entry-level candidates: These applicants have little experience below 5 years. It could be one year experience. They are thus expected to list all their paid work and not hesitate to record their achievements and responsibilities relevant to the job. 
  • First-time job hunters: These applicants who have no work experience can add other histories like leadership engagement, internship, or volunteering experience to fill this space.
  1. List your academic qualifications correctly

You should not only list your education history under this section. Also include the relevant coursework, honours, and awards you received. Add extracurricular activities like social commitments and volunteering to increases your chances. The order here is to start with the most recent academic qualification you obtained.

  1. Put relevant skills that fit the job.

There are two types of skills you should list as you write a resume; soft and hard skills. Hard skills are specific abilities that require learning from a professional. Examples are editing, web development, photography, etc.

On the other hand, soft skills are the self-development and transferable skills that you learn through life experience. Examples are social and adaptability skills. The combination of these two makes a compelling skillset section on your resume.

  1. Add an additional important resume section.

When you write a resume, consider adding a section that include some details about your hobbies and interests, volunteering work, internship experience, certifications and awards, language proficiency, projects, and publications.

Note that anything you decide to include here must align with your application’s job description. For instance, if you’re applying to a Nigerian media company that has a culture of taking road trips or having internal competitions to boost morale, you can add hobbies that identify you as a team player and an explorer.

  1. Complement with a professionally written cover letter

Most times, recruiters request a professionally written cover letter to complement a resume. For this reason, write a professional cover letter tailored to the job description and increase your chance of landing the new role.

To write a professional resume is one thing; to support with a strong cover letter is like hitting the nail on the head. A good choice of resume sample format that fits your job and a professional cover letter is almost always all you need to get your foot in the door.

Read also: How to write a professional cover letter and land the job

  1. Proofread, save and start applying

The last thing to do before sending your resume and cover letter, as the case may be, is to use some writing software like Grammarly to proofread it. Also send it to friends or professional resume reviewers for double or multi-checking.

You may decide to either save it in a word document or PDF. Most recruiters prefer PDF format. After doing this, save it using your name spaced with hyphens or underscore, and maybe the position you are applying for. With this, you are good to go.

Read also: Dress outfits for job interviews in Nigeria


Many unsuccessful job applications are not due to the ineligibility of most applicants. It is a result of a poor resume writing. With the steps listed above, you can increase your chance of being employed anywhere by making use of a perfect resume. Check out this very detailed sample (by Harvard).

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About Author

Avatar of Winlade
Isreal Winlade is a content creator and creative writer with awards and recognition. A graduate of French and winner of Erasmus+ scholarship. He is currently an M.A student in European Literary Culture at the University of Strasbourg, France. Outside class, he is committed to freelance writing, translation from French to English and vice versa, nature photography, debating, and pressing his phone.

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